DEQ Addresses City Council and Public On Coal Ash Spill - - ABC13

DEQ Addresses City Council and Public On Coal Ash Spill


Danville, VA - The DEQ Director addressed concerns Tuesday night from City Council and the public. The DEQ says they plan to learn a lot about what could happen to the wildlife and environment from the Tennessee ash spill that happened years ago.

Crowds packed Danville's Council Chambers to hear updates from state agencies. In the audience, loaded with questions and concerns, North Carolina resident, Morris Lawson came to the meeting hoping for answers.

"It makes me feel better that they are going to be out there. But until I see them dredging or pulling stuff out, that will make me really feel better," said Lawson.

DEQ Director David Paylor led the conversation alongside representatives from the state Health Department and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

"We're in this for the long-haul, we're going to make sure the right thing is done for the river and the right thing is done for the citizens," said Paylor.

Paylor says the most recent calculations show 39,000 tons of coal ash entered the river. He says they tried to collect the ash near the spill site.

"22 tons was captured below immediately below...pretty small amount," said Paylor.

Paylor explained that they plan an additional ash recovery upstream from the Schoolfield Dam starting within a month. Meanwhile, he says the DEQ has been collecting several samples, everything from drinking water to fish tissue. He says water is still safe to drink.

"There are really no levels of concern of fish tissue right now. Can you eat the fish?...There are no additional problems as of yet as a result of this," said Paylor.

Paylor says they plan to keep testing the fish for years to come.

After the meeting, Duke Energy representatives spoke to City Council. They apologized again about what happened and said they take full responsibility, including financially. Representatives said they plan to move the Dan River ash pond in the next 24 to 30 months.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries says they plan to be on the river Wednesday to collect samples, looking for possible clam and mussel kills. The DEQ says a fish advisory is in effect but that started before the spill. And the Health Department warns everyone to use their own judgment in regards to being in contact with the water. They suggest to not touch the coal ash, if you see it floating.

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